You naturally have normal, healthy cells in your breast that grow and divide into new cells. Breast cancer occurs when these new cells copy incorrectly and these bad copies grow out of control, forming a tumor.
There are many types of breast cancer. Each is unique and requires different treatment. Paget's disease carcinoma is a rare breast cancer that affects your nipple, areola and milk ducts. Usually it doesn't spread to other areas of your body, making it easier to treat.
Paget's disease carcinoma is not related to other forms of Paget's disease, such as Paget's disease of the bone.
Signs of Paget's disease carcinoma starts in your nipple
Paget's disease carcinoma tends to start in the nipple and spread to the dark skin around the nipple (areola) and other areas of your breast. Since it starts in your nipple, many of the signs of Paget's disease carcinoma also start there. Your nipple may undergo changes that look like eczema or other skin problems, so it is important to talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin.
Signs of Paget's disease carcinoma may include:
- Changes in the skin of your nipple such as flakiness, crustiness, oozing or hardening
- Itching and redness in your nipple or breast
- Discharge from your nipple that might be yellow or red
- Nipple becomes dented in or flattened
- A lump or thick skin in your breast
Paget's disease carcinoma needs personalized treatment
Treatment for Paget's disease carcinoma begins with surgery to remove any cancer in your breast. In a lumpectomy, your surgeon will remove your nipple and areola, as well as surrounding breast tissue. If you have other tumors in your breast, you may need a mastectomy to remove your entire breast.
After you are done with cancer treatment, you can have surgery to reconstruct your breast, nipple and areola. You can also get the nipple and areola tattooed onto your breast if necessary.
If only part of your breast is removed, you will need to have radiation therapy following surgery. Radiation therapy uses high-powered beams and particles to burn away cancer cells. Because radiation therapy is precisely targeted, healthy cells are left unharmed. Some women who have mastectomy will also need radiation therapy, especially if cancer has spread to lymph nodes.
If cancer has possibly spread to other areas of your body, you will get chemotherapy treatment to destroy any cancer cells no matter where they are. Chemotherapy uses medicines you take as a pill or through an IV to kill cancer cells.
Sometimes Paget's disease carcinoma uses natural hormones like estrogen or progesterone to grow. Early in your treatment, your doctor will test your specific type of cancer to find out if it uses these hormones. If it does, you can help stop cancer from coming back by having hormone therapy. During hormone therapy, you take a pill each day for five to ten years that stops your body from making hormones or stops your breast cells from absorbing hormones. Hormone therapy is very helpful at keeping you cancer-free.